Tell us a bit about yourself. Where are you from? What is it that you do, and what inspired you to do it?
I grew up on a mountain in Tennessee and started singing in the church choir when I was 7. That led to local theater and eventually moving to NYC when I was 17 to start my career. Now I make films and television and am incredibly thankful to travel all over the world while doing it.
What project are you currently working on and what’s after that?
I have a new film coming out Hallmark’s “Check Inn To Christmas” Thanksgiving week! November 26th. And we are developing new projects now. One is a sequel, and it’s super secret so I can’t say too much yet but we are hoping to film in early 2020.
Who has been the most important person in your life? Can you tell me about him or her?
I’m very close to my family. My sister in law is a true inspiration. And my grandmother. She’s 101. Last year, she broke her hip and now she is walking again. She has tremendous strength, courage, and resilience. It’s beyond inspiring to watch.
What was the happiest moment of your life? And the saddest?
Moving to NY at 17 was definitely the bravest. I was by myself on a one-way ticket hoping to figure out how to navigate the entertainment industry. There have been so many amazing moments along the way. And there’s also been a lot of heartbreak, but it’s made me wiser. And stronger. The hard times always make us stronger.
Who has been the biggest influence on your life?
My grandmother. She’s a warrior. I work in an industry with so many different types of people and she keeps me grounded. She was a country girl who moved to the city and built a beautiful life for herself.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned in life?
Resilience. And things have a way of working out. The most challenging times I’ve gone through have shaped me into the woman I am today. They’ve made me more compassionate, more sensitive to people around me and what they’re going through and also more grateful. When you’ve worked your way through a challenging time, the world just looks different. The simplest things become something so incredibly beautiful.
What is your earliest memory?
Playing hide and go seek with my parents. I remember my dad being concerned that I would hide somewhere and they wouldn’t be able to find me, and I found that really funny.
Are there any funny stories your family tells about you that come to mind?
When I was kid, I would write plays and cast my brothers and cousins in them and we would put on a show every Thanksgiving in my grandmother’s basement. Right before the show I would go upstairs and sell tickets. Now I make a lot of holiday movies so my family finds this all very full circle.
What are you most proud of?
When I was a little girl, I was climbing across the monkey bars and my grandmother tried to help me, and I looked at her and said, “I do by self!” And then I fell and broke my arm. So my independent streak started early. Building a life of my own has been a big part of my journey.
When in life have you felt most alone?
Probably those first few weeks in New York. I was a teenager looking up at all these buildings and realizing I didn’t know anyone in any of them. But I was so happy to be there. I also made some of my closest friends that first year in New York. People that were on a similar path and still are to this day.
If you could hold on to one memory from your life forever, what would that be?
The happy ones. Can I hold on to all the happy ones?
What are your hopes for what the future holds?
I’m excited to be back on a series. I love working with a team that becomes a family. And traveling. I would love to film in a beautiful new county and explore. And love. I hope the future holds a lot of love.
For your great great grandchildren listening to this years from now: is there any wisdom you’d want to pass on to them? What would you want them to know?
Stay true to who you are. You come from incredibly strong people. There is so much to do in this world, and I hope you work towards making it a happy, healthier, and kinder one.